Local Churches Practice Alternative Measures To Reach the People
The status of our current world could be described as utter chaos as consumers make a mad dash for essential supplies, nonessential businesses are ordered to shut down for the time being, travel has been greatly discouraged and even banned in some instances, and families and friends are told they can not gather.
This stress, unrest, and uncertainty plaguing the hearts and minds of the people calls for answers and assurance; it calls for hope.
Some turn to their televisions and remain glued to the newest updates on the Coronavirus situation. Others strictly adhere to the CDC guidelines and find their assurance in quarantine. However, for some, this need for hope and assurance is not met by the doom and gloom of the news outlets; it’s not fulfilled by the governor or local officials. For some, this assurance needs to emanate from a source greater than those ever so shifted by emerging news; it needs to come from a source that is above it all. For this reason, many turn to their local churches to seek out answers from God.
However, in order to remain in accordance with the CDC guidelines, subject themselves to be submissive and obedient under the government’s authority, as well as protect their congregations, many churches have temporarily suspended their services.
This has left a gaping hole in the hearts of those seeking hope and peace from God, and leaves many churches floundering on the right course of action moving forward.
Pastors and church leaders are left wondering and questioning how they can best lead their congregation, minister to those hurting and confused, and reach those in need.
“There’s nothing in a textbook to teach you how to lead a church when the government asks you not to hold services,” Toney Cox, Senior Pastor of The Refuge Church in New Martinsville expressed.
Cox – who has only been pastoring at The Refuge Church for about seven weeks – expressed his deep heartbreak over the situation unfolding in the world currently that prohibits his congregation from coming together in worship and connecting with one another on a journey towards God’s heart.
Pastor Toney and his leadership team have reportedly met numerous times via the internet to assess the ever revolving situation and the best course of action to take in holding services and serving the people in the community.
“We’re just trying to use technology like Facebook and Zoom, continue outreach, and keep the church connected. It’s all very difficult.” Cox said.
Many other local churches have also begun to rely on technology such as Facebook Live to hold worship services.
Recently, The Refuge Church held a Drive-In Service in the parking lot of the church, located across the street from Burger King. This type of service is being utilized by churches around the globe and consists of congregants parking their cars in the church parking lot, remaining in the vehicles, and participating in a live worship service from the comfort and safety of their personal vehicle.
During this time, Pastor Toney also delivered a Word to the people, and offered encouragement to them from a safe distance.
When asked what the purpose of this service was, as the congregation was still unable to meet for “church as usual,” he stated, “We’re doing this because the church is alive. The church is not closed; we’re just finding different ways to offer the Word and worship.”
Cox went on to say, “I don’t like it when people use this term “the church is closed,” so I specifically say we’re not closed. We’re open, just in a temporarily different way. That’s why we’re doing this.”
In regards to the recent Drive-In Service and the manner in which it was conducted regarding safety measures, Pastor Toney said, “We tried very hard to keep everything safe today, keep everyone in their vehicles, and our ushers had gloves on. So from my perspective, nothing was done here today outside of the CDC guidelines.”
However, Cox expressed that each person needs to do what they believe is safest for them and their family.
“Everyone should do what they think is best for their situation, but I think that as long as it’s kept safe, it’s a safe thing to do. I would say to any pastor or person, just do what you think is best for you and your situation.”
Pastor Toney and The Refuge Church will hold two Drive-In Service’s on Easter Sunday, April 12. The first service will be held at 10:45 with the second following at noon.
“We’re going to keep it short and keep it safe,” Pastor Toney said of the Easter services.
The Refuge Church will continue to hold worship services on The Refuge Church Facebook page, utilize Zoom for meetings and small groups, and offer support to individuals in need.
“We’ll get through this, and I think the church will be better when it’s over.” Cox confidently stated.
All are invited to join Pastor Toney and The Refuge Church for their Drive-In services Easter Sunday, or tune in to the live recording of worship on Facebook.